Trish's Reviews > The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories

The People on Privilege Hill and Other Stories by Jane Gardam
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Jul 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: british, fiction, funny, france, short-stories
Read from July 20 to 23, 2011

The People on Privilege Hill contains stories, short and quick and with adult emotions. Gardam has a laser-eye, and can have a razor-tongue, but she knows what humans are and what makes a story.

In “The Fledgling," we are introduced to that self-conscious teen ready to leave the nest, and the mixed emotions of parent and child are recognizable and painful and funny at the same time. In “Dangers” we encounter a story reminiscent of the UK’s BBC radio show My Word, where segments often feature a funny and circuitous word etomology. “Waiting for a Stranger” may be my favorite of all, as an uncertain hostess waits for an overseas guest to arrive at her remote farm cottage. There had been only a day to prepare--it was a sudden request from her minister and her guest is a black African bishop. She is a farm wife and mother, and she’d never seen a black man in the flesh before, just on the telly. There is something terribly poignant about the care for a stranger.

In ”The Virgin of Bruges,” Gardam displays her trademark dry wit:
But even if she had not wanted me I would have gone to her. Frédérique is unlike me. She is a mother, wife of a farmer, beautiful, resourceful, practical, intellectual. I am a small, short man.
"Pangbourne" is a story of cherishing another being, sharing their space, and their life, with no expectation of any return. And Gardam breaks our hearts with “The Latter Days of Mr. Jones,” the story of an elderly man, alone and never married, accused of hateful crimes against children. Each story illuminates corners of the human psyche and doesn’t bore us with too much of anything—explanations or asides, regrets or remarks. Just short stories that remain long in one’s memory.
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Reading Progress

07/20/2011 page 65
20.0% "Gardam has a voice all her own. Each story in this book of short stories is just long enough for a cup of tea, and each shows us a bare-naked human heart."

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol Short stories are not the easiest for me to read but you made these sound like it would be worth my effort. They are kind of like poetry, tight, precise and thought provoking...


Trish Yes, these are definitely NOT a plod.


message 3: by Merry (new)

Merry You are so good at reading different types of books. I seem to get stuck with what I know I like, and rarely venture out... your reviews help me stretch myself. I will check this one out, thank you.


Trish Hi, Merry. I adored Jane Gardam's book called Old Filth. Then I joined the Europa Challenge, which has several Gardam books. The People on Privilege Hill is easy to enjoy. The stories are short & there is nothing strange. You don't need to start at the beginning, but can skip around if you like. I usually do.


message 5: by Merry (new)

Merry good to know :)


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